Each One, Reach One helps black students find future

The event helps undergraduates shape a life after college.

Amanda Bankston

If it were up to Naa-Adjeley Ablorh, her path to discovering what she wanted to do in life would have been a lot more direct.
âÄúMy career path hasnâÄôt been completely straight,âÄù she said. âÄúIâÄôm a scientist now, but at one point, I veered into medicine.âÄù
The University of Minnesota biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics doctoral student said that if she had known what it was like to be a scientist, she would have pursued it from the start rather than investing time and energy in a field that wasnâÄôt for her.
Today, she joins the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association in hosting its second Each One, Reach One event with the hope of helping others avoid the same mistakes.
âÄúThe significance of this event is giving black undergraduate students enough information to succeed,âÄù Ablorh, the event organizer, said.
Each One, Reach One, which targets undergraduate students of color, will feature a panel of successful black professionals, the opportunity to engage with people of similar backgrounds and information about future possibilities.
BGAPSA hosted the first Each One, Reach One event last fall with a focus on providing undergraduates with information about graduate school.
Though organizers expected only about 30 undergraduates to attend, more than double that number participated, which let them know they were onto something important, BGAPSA President Illenin Kondo said.
Kondo said feedback provided by attendees resulted in the new direction this time.
âÄúThere was a focus on graduate school last time,âÄù Ablorh said. âÄúBut we realized that some undergraduates donâÄôt want to go to graduate school, but every undergraduate wants a job.âÄù
She said she initiated the idea for the event after attending Harvard University as an undergraduate, where many of her peers were more prepared for college life after attending preparatory schools.
âÄúThere were a lot of little things I didnâÄôt know,âÄù she said. âÄúI now know that itâÄôs the little things that can make a big difference.âÄù
Like Ablorh, Kondo took an unconventional path to his doctoral candidacy in economics. However, he said his experience switching from an electrical engineering path made the significance of this event very real to him.
âÄúIâÄôve seen and continue to see how effective it is to create opportunities like this,âÄù he said, âÄúnot only to build connections, but to share the human capital essential to do well in anything.âÄù
Kondo said he is one of only two black graduate students in the economics department. With so few graduate students of African descent on campus, he said, it is possible to go months without a meaningful interaction with a black graduate student.
This semester, about 3 percent of graduate students identify as black, according to data from the UniversityâÄôs Office of Institutional Research.
He said that is why BGAPSA is important âÄî it âÄúbreaks this isolationâÄù and creates a sense of community for these students.
The group, which just applied for student fees for only the second time, continues to grow with events such as this one, including a Black Identity Series launched Tuesday and Young Black Public Scholars, where students can showcase their research, Kondo said.
Each One, Reach One begins at 6 p.m. in the PresidentâÄôs Room in Coffman Union and is free for the public including students from all backgrounds.
Organizers hope to attract 60 undergraduates, but its success will be measured by a much smaller scale, according to both Kondo and Ablorh.
âÄúBy the time most people start asking the right questions about their future, it is too late,âÄù Kondo said. âÄúIf just one student leaves with a clearer vision about what they want to do, this event will be a success.âÄù